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Introducing Toulouse

Toulouse might just be France's most overlooked city. Known as 'La Ville Rose' (the Pink City) thanks to the dusky-pink bricks used in many of its buildings, it's the country's fourth-biggest metropolis and has one of the largest universities outside Paris – and yet Toulouse receives a fraction of the visitors compared to better-known cities such as Nice, Bordeaux and Lyon.

But this vibrant southern city has so much going for it: a crackling cultural scene, a beautiful old quarter packed with hôtels particuliers (private mansions) and a glorious location at the confluence of the Canal du Midi and the River Garonne. Further afield you'll discover a fantastic space museum and the main Airbus factory – both reminders of the important role Toulouse has played in France's aerospace industry.

Throw in some of the southwest's finest food markets and restaurants, and it becomes hard to think of any trip that shouldn't include a few days in Toulouse.